What is the festival of Diwali?

  • 27 October 2016
What is the festival of Diwali? (November 2015)

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia.

It is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.

The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word deepavali, meaning "rows of lighted lamps". Houses, shops and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called diyas.

People also enjoy fireworks and sweets too, so it's really popular with children.

What's it all about?

Image copyright AP

Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile. They also celebrate the day Mother Goddess Durga destroyed a demon called Mahisha.

Sikhs particularly celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh in 1619. But Sikhs celebrated the festival before this date.

In fact, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the most holy place in the Sikh world, was laid on Diwali in 1577.

Ayshah learns some dance moves for Diwali (November 2015)

The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss).

Traditions

  • Many lights and oil lamps are lit on the streets and in houses
  • People visit their relatives and have feasts
  • Fireworks and festivities are an essential part of the occasion
  • Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is worshipped as the bringer of blessings for the new year

When is it?

The festival is usually some time between October and November. It changes each year.

This year, it will fall on Sunday, October 30.